As you’ll know, at least hopefully you will, should you vote yes on September 18th, in the Independence Referendum, you won’t be voting for independence per se; what you’ll be voting for is to give Alex Salmond the right to negotiate the terms under which Scotland will eventually become independent.
Alex, has set out his position on each of the major areas under negotiation, this is the right and proper thing to do, and it is to be welcomed. However, what he hasn’t done is to set out a “Plan B” if you will, or informed us what his “Red Lines” would be.
What do I mean by that? Well let’s look at the need for a “Plan B”. First, let’s take the issue of Europe. An independent Scotland will have to negotiate entry into the EU. Alex’s position is that we’ll be accepted and the process will be quick. Recently the EU President, a man in a position to have some idea about what it takes to expand the EU membership, said that, at best, the negotiations would be long and complicated.
Given that, when questioned on what would happen if Scotland were refused entry, or even what would happen to our trade if EU membership took, say, 5 years to complete; Alex should be able to say, “Well if my negotiating position isn’t entirely successful, or if I lose completely, an Independent Scotland would…”. Instead, he waves his hands and claims all will be well, much like the video.
Having dealt with that, let’s look at what I mean by “Red Lines”. To do that, let’s look at the situation with the currency. First Alex claimed that the pound was a “millstone” around the necks of the Scottish people, and he couldn’t wait to rid us of it. Once focus groups told him that ditching the pound was a barrier to people voting yes, that idea was immediately scrapped and we were told we’d be keeping the pound. Notice, as with all these things, Alex never says, this is my negotiating position, he just asserts that, “we will…”, like it’s a foregone conclusion.
However, the other political parties have stated that you can’t have a currency union without a political union, and since the SNP are not interested in the latter then an independent Scotland can’t have the former. By the way, despite what the SNP say, this is not the other parties bullying us Scots, it’s a principle followed by the EU too, if you want to be part of the Eurozone, then you have to be part of the political union, since we know Alex wanted to join the Eurozone not that long ago, we know he’s not against a political union per se, just with the rest of the UK it seems.
So, Salmond’s position is we’ll have a currency union, the remainder of the UK’s position is we won’t, so what’s Salmond’s alternative, should his negotiating position fail? There isn’t one, it’s more hand waving a la the video and more assertion of “There will be a currency union”. That brings me back to the idea of a “Red Line”, if we can’t be in a currency union with the UK, and we can’t join the Euro, even supposing we wanted to, immediately, would that constitute a “Red Line”, a situation whereby Salmond would say, “to carry on under these circumstances would be so damaging to Scotland that we won’t continue with Independence”? I fear not, in fact my fear is that there are no “Red Lines”, my fear is that Salmond wants independence at any cost, and since he won’t tell us what, if anything, his “Red Lines” are, I fear I’m right.
So, before I go, just remember this. If you are voting yes in September, you are betting that Salmond wins every argument, and the result of every negotiation is that he gets his own way. When was the last time any politician achieved that? Hell, when was the last day you won every argument you took part in? The sad truth, that no one seems to be waking up to, is that if you vote yes in September, you have no idea what you’ll be getting, so be careful what you wish for.
I’m voting no, only because “hell no!” isn’t an option.